Julia Marie Stevens

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December 31, 2009
In 1920 Zita Raphael along with her son Joseph arrived in Sydney to view the possibility of moving to Australia. In Feb 1928 Joseph Raphael married Mary Reaiche in Lebanon. Julia Mary, their first child, was born on the 19 Dec 1928 in Antourine, Lebanon. In June 1929 they arrived in Sydney, Australia and took up residence in rural North Ryde. In Australia the family grew to include 2 sons (Buddy and Sam) and 4 more daughters (Zita, Rose, Norma and Yvonne). They established a successful farming business and later retail businesses as well, based on sound family values and integrity with inclusive community principles, proud and respectful to be in a country that can provide opportunities. This formula was to be important role-modeling for the future for many. In May 1948 Julia Mary married John (Hannah) Raymond Stevens from Adelaide. They initially settled in a multi-cultured filled community environment in Mile End S.A. living in the same 2 to 3 streets of neighbouring Lebanese families the Stevens, Ellis, Joseph, Shadiac, Antony and Nicholas. In Adelaide John, the youngest of 5 children (Joseph, Adele, Stephanie, Theresa) who similarly migrated to Australia with their widowed mother (Sultana) in Nov 1924, had already established a creditable reputation as a sound leader and formidable spokesperson within the Lebanese and Australian communities. His efforts at that point included roles: -As Secretary of the Mt. Lebanon Social Committee -Secretary of the Lebanese Social committee -Helping establish the first Lebanese Cedars (Aussie Rules) Football club in 1947 proving to be a young competent and inspiring committeeman and sportsman – The clubs objective was to use sport as a mutual leveler to bring all the SA Lebanese communities together, irrespective of their beliefs and background, and collectively as one movement proudly fuse the essence of the Lebanese community and culture harmoniously in with the Australian people for social, business and charitable integration. In 1953 Julia and John established their foundation family home attached to their retail business residence in Panorama S.A. Here Julia and John Stevens along with their 5 children (Marie-Therese, Raymond, Joseph, Mark and Kevin) built a successful business establishing, what could now be best described, as one of the first Supermarket businesses in the state. The business was based on sound strategic, family, social and economic platforms and success came from hard work and long hours as was typical of many migrants of the 1950 and 60’s. Their ability to be innovative and inspire did not stop there as they helped many – about 25 Lebanese individuals and families, establish their own business similarly, with Julia and John effectively taking on the role as: -Business advisors -Industrial relations and Human Resources management -Financiers – if not only putting money up front for initial deposit for them and/or in most instances going guarantor, and -General ongoing management consulting and moral support Many of these people have built dynasties per say, and it is not unusual that even today Julia Stevens humbly accepts invitations to various engagements, weddings, baptisms and other special life events of the grandchildren of some of these families. These are sent to her out of a mark of respect for the help given to them to establish a new life. Importantly, success to others in both the Australian and Australian Lebanese communities came in many forms consistent with the commonalities lived-out by Julia and John, that being: -Sound Christian ideals and values -Commitment to the family -To be positive and belief in yourself -Respect and encourage others to achieve and to develop -Proud of your culture and heritage, and -Respectful of the many opportunities in this country. These ingredients are still highlighted in many of these families and in their social and business networks and likely to for many generations to come. Julia and John’s community work featured in many areas, including: -Church: -with the formation in the early 1970’s of the SA Maronite St. Maroun’s church and community centre, both holding senior positions as President and Treasurer for many years -various parish and pastoral work within the Adelaide Catholic dioceses -various parish committee work with St. Paul’s Passionist Monastery, Carmelite Monastery and St. Joseph’s Convent, Kensington -Australian Lebanese Community: -President of the SA Lebanese Committee -President and later Patron of the Cedars football club -Treasurer SA Lebanese Woman’s Association -Their children’s interests, including: -Schools - Various committees and regular support at assorted events at the children’s schools of St. Therese’s, Blackfriars Priory and Cabra Convent -Sporting clubs Various fundraising and social functions were held in the family home for all of the above from time to time and often included dignitaries from government, religious and sporting circles. Also it was common for Julia and John to be guest of honour at various events due to their position on committees and/or because of their past contribution to business or community outcomes. These events provided successful social, economic and business results benefiting both the Australian and also the Australian Lebanese people alike. Over the years their own business activities continued with various retail enterprises, expanding in the building industry and also with selected investment opportunities. Today Julia along with her daughter Mary-Therese operates one of the states most successful stand alone ticketing agencies based in the Mitcham Shopping Centre. In August 1983 John Stevens passed away leaving many families touched and thankful for his contribution across many areas of their lives. Since then Julia Stevens community role has continued still maintaining an active presence with all the previous affiliations. Significantly, it could also be said that she has effectively become: -the quasi mother to many Australian Lebanese women whose own mothers are not around due to death, distance or discomfort in supporting them with mid-life and relationship situations -surrogate grandmother (situ) for many without -the sounding board and leveling influence to many distraught people in dealing with life within the Australian Lebanese community and around the Mitcham shopping centre. At the local St Paul’s church all the priests, brothers, nuns, staff and many parishioners affectionately call her “Auntie Julia” out of respect for her kind contribution and untiring welfare efforts over the many years. She has always done this willingly and with Love – never begrudgingly. It could be said that since the death of her husband, her position within the community took on a more ‘nurturing role’ to not only to the many families that they had initially together helped out – yet also, in particular, to women who knew that they could trust and confide in seeking solutions and wisdom. Life has not been without its problems for her with many setbacks. However today Julia Mary Stevens continues her business, family and community work with humility and integrity, and at the heart of all this is her underlying belief that she is merely carrying out Gods work, each day.

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